All Saints Parish Newsletter
This Sunday Paul says, “Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us.”
Most clergy would hesitate to say, “join in imitating me.” We are not St. Paul. We know enough of our own failings and the more public clerical falls from grace.
Yet, in the Collect for All Saints Day, we say, “Grant us grace so to follow thy blessed Saints in all virtuous and godly living.” We are clearly intended to imitate the saints and one of the classics of Christian spirituality urges us to “The Imitation of Christ.”
But imitation of Christ or Paul or some other saint is not straightforward. It is not a matter of reproducing in some way the historical life of Jesus of Nazareth; looking as we imagine Jesus would have looked: beard, long hair, robe and sandals. Priests are urged to follow great examples like George Herbert or the Cure d’Ars, but that is about something deeper than dressing like a 17th century English country parson or a 19th century French one. Imitation is more than looking back to some ideal model and copying it.
The life of Christ in the New Testament means not only the past Jesus of Nazareth but the present and future Christ. So the Christ we imitate means both the figure formed in our imagination by meditation on the Gospel, and the Christ seen in his followers as they show the signs of Christ –gentleness, humility, love , obedience.
The imitation of Christ needs to look forward as well as back. Growing into Christ is not a constant looking back to a past model but a living process which attains its goal in the future. The Christ of the Gospels beckons us forward not back: “Yet today and tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way…,” as Jesus says in Sunday’s gospel.
Model and growth into the likeness of Christ are seen in our sacramental union with Christ in baptism and the eucharist: the beginning and the constant renewal and growth of that union. The sacraments make it clear that the imitation of Christ is not primarily something we do, but the work of the Spirit. Nor is it something we can do or have done to us alone. Christ takes shape in the community which becomes his body.
So if I were to urge you to imitate me, it would be in striving to be open to that work by a faithful attention to the model of Christ who meets us in word and sacrament and in those fellow-Christians who become Christ to us.
Yours in Christ,
Please pray for Christopher Ryan, Michael Harris, Linda Orme, Mary Barnet, Joshua Levy, Audrey Patterson, Celia Shore, Michael Sullivan, Rachel Clayton, Heather Walker, Brian Sparkes, John Rogers, Mason Jacobson, Barbara Laws, David Day, Timothy Montgomery, Timothy Harding, Andrew Tillyard, Jonathan Jennings, Melanie, Rosie Flack, Richard Turner, Isabelle Stoughton, Fred Mansfield, Martin Sergeant, Eleanor Chapman, Bishop Stephen Conway, Stephen Short, Daphne The Recently Departed: Sheila Miller, Gilbert Rodway, John Gilmour, Mark Dalby, Robert Milner At the anniversary of their death: William Butterfield, Thomas Skeffington-Lodge, James Lumsden Keen, Eleanor Alaway, (John) Derek Beavan, Lionel Ryan, Catherine Thomas, Alexander George Finnis, Martin Mogridge, Dennis Gill, William Batey, Gertrude Isabel Bennett, Charles Bewick, Frances Lilian Lightfoot
Ten-to-One-Talks – This series of talks on our building and its meaning, given by the Vicar, resumes in March.
March 3. The Choir
March 10. The High Altar
March 17. The Reredos
Each talks lasts 10 minutes
Monday 11th March 7:30pm –The Licensing by The Bishop of Southwark of Fr. John Pritchard as Priest-in-Charge, St John The Evangelist, Upper Norwood SE19 2RX – (Nearest Train Station – Crystal Palace). ALL WELCOME
All Saints Choir Cabaret Night – keep the date free Sunday 21st April 7.30pm Date for your diaries: the Choir will be staging another cabaret night in aid of the All Saints Restoration Appeal during the evening on Sunday 21st April. It will be at the Phoenix on Cavendish Square again, within walking distance of the Church. Please speak to Chris Self or Dee Candlin-Prior if you might be interested in sponsoring any aspect of the event. Tickets (£l5 each plus optional further donation, which will allow you to Gift Aid your purchase) will be on sale both online and in the Courtyard after High Mass.